11 human rights workers fall in ‘gov’t crackdown’

At least 11 human rights workers in the country have fallen victim to the government-issued crackdown versus left-leaning organizations and individuals, human rights group Karapatan said.
Since the Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to crack down progressive organizations, nine human rights workers in Batangas and two from Western Mindanao region were illegally arrested and detained, the group reported.
Mass arrest of members of an organization is fast becoming a trend in the PNP and AFP’s conduct of illegal arrests.  It has become as brazen and as arbitrary, cried Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
The authorities again claim that those arrested were members of the New People’s Army (NPA), a lie relegated as among the oldest trick in the PNP and AFP’s “how to get away with illegal arrest and human rights violations” rulebook. Whatever the State maneuvers, there is no denying the systematic attack against HR workers under the Duterte regime, she added.
On November 20, nine members of the quick reaction team (QRT) led by the Karapatan-allied Batangas Human Rights Alliance (HRA) were arrested by policemen and Philippine Air Force 730th Combat Group in Nasugbu, Batangas. The nine individuals are members of the farmers’ groups Habagat and the Samahan ng Pinagkaisang Damdamin ng Brgy. Quisumbing from Calaca and Lian, Batangas, respectively, and the jeepney driver, who, together with 20 other members of the QRT, were on their way to Brgy. Utod to monitor human rights violations against civilians amid the ongoing military operations of the PAF against members of the NPA in Nasugbu, Palabay claimed.
The 9 arrested in Batangas are Leonardo Delos Reyes, 43; Carlos Sanoza, 62; Josefino Castillano, 50; Peping Sacdalan, 67; Robert Hernandez; Jocelyn Cabadin, 44; Jennelyn Bayani, 30; Orlan Cabadin, 19; and Anthony Bañaga.
Palabay said arrests have intensified with the creation of the Inter-agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA). ”With the AFP and PNP’s recent creation of the IACLA, political persecution and illegal arrests have intensified against members and leaders of human rights groups and other progressive organizations. More increasingly in the Duterte regime, legal processes are subverted and instead directed against the people. There is a systematic targeting of human rights workers, and mechanisms like IACLA have ensured that this form of repression is legitimized by the courts,” she added.
Also on November 18, a couple was illegally arrested in Pagadian City. Senando Jacutin, 47, peasant organizer of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Western Mindanao, and Rosario Tabanao, 47, a staff of Karapatan Western Mindanao, were arrested by composite CIDG Region 9 and 1st Infantry Tabak Division agents.  Jacutin and Tabanao are currently detained at the Pagadian City Police Station.
“How then can human rights and humanitarian organizations function and aid civilians amidst armed conflict when rights of human rights workers are being curtailed?  Human rights workers, in the conduct of their work, have already one foot in the grave.”  Palabay denounced further.
Karapatan warned that the present administration and security forces “seem determined to eliminate all who dare to speak out against repression and rights abuses.” ACE ALEGRE / ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon